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Morocco – Day Ten – Final Day and revisiting Marrakech

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Djemma el Fna in Marrakech

For our final day in Morocco, we took a taxi into Marrakech from our hotel in the La Palmerie (around Dh180) to revisit the city centre. Dodging snake charmers and henna artists in the Djemma el Fna like pros, we plunged into the souqs for one last shopping frenzy.

Even in bright daylight, the narrow alleys of the souqs are always atmospherically dim thanks to high walls and slatted wooden covers over the roads. I have talked about the souqs before, but they are a part of Marrakech that just keeps drawing you back and I can’t resist revisiting them.

Centuries seem to have collected here to sit stagnant in these winding streets; meat hangs from hooks outside a hole-in-the-wall butchers shop opposite a store jam-packed with electrical items. Scooters whizz past crowds with no thought for pedestrians, while at the same time donkeys are trotting along with heavily laden carts.

Morocco - Day Ten - Final Day and revisiting Marrakech

You can find everything for sale in the souqs. Just don’t try to actually find anything. Streets you just walked down will vanish when you retrace your footsteps, a shop you saw earlier disappears without a trace.

There’s something very Diagon Alley about this intricate maze where apothecaries stuffed with mysterious potions emerge from the darkness, and storefronts twinkle like Aladdin’s caves, bursting with glittering brass lanterns and teetering stacks of silver tea sets.

Morocco - Day Ten - Final Day and revisiting Marrakech

It’s all so jaw-droppingly fascinating that you won’t even notice the smells of raw meat, sweat, and decay. Besides, all that is overpowered by the white musk or amber that an eager salesman has rubbed on your clothes (“Berber Chanel Number Five”) or the mouth-watering flavours of tagine spices hanging in the air around a little cafe .

The souqs operate at a hectic pace. Cries of balek! (watch out!) pelt over the din of donkeys, hawkers, children, scooters and tourists as men nimbly weave round shoppers, dragging carts loaded with goods. Locals who seem born with an in-built souq navigation system race and jostle down the poky side streets, and even tourists don’t seem to want to stand still.

Morocco - Day Ten - Final Day and revisiting Marrakech

Funnily enough, though, actually buying something can be quite time-consuming. The process is dragged out like this…

You stop to look at something and a shopkeeper pounces out of the shadows, blocking off the entrance and cornering you in his shop. He asks if you like it, tells you how good it is, tells you why you need it in your life. You ask how much and he gives you a value three or more times the item’s worth.

You shake your head and give the price you’d like to pay. He laughs at your ridiculous offer, or shakes his head with an act of offence. He offers you a slightly lower price than his original, saying it’s a special price because he likes you. You stick to your guns and give the price you want to pay.

He says no, he couldn’t possibly, it’s far too low. You put the item down and start to walk away. He chases after you, asks for your best price. You give the price again. He offers something a little higher. You walk away again, he chases after you, grabs your hand and says ok, yes, you can have it at the price you want – but only because he likes you, it is far too low and he won’t make any profit now. You pay, he wraps the item, and you shake hands and walk away.

Now, the whole experience is fun, but I can’t help but wonder if maybe just having fixed prices would speed things up. And who knows, maybe they’d sell more.

READ MORE: Get some top haggling tips in this post

Morocco - Day Ten - Final Day and revisiting Marrakech

Clutching the souvenirs I’d bargained hard for, we headed back across the square to the roof terrace of Cafe Glacier, where we filled up on a late lunch and people-watched from the balcony.

Afterwards, we sat in the neat Cyberpark gardens – a favourite haunt of bored-looking Moroccan teenagers – and chilled out after a hard day’s haggling. After a man with a whistle kicked us out at closing time, we headed back to the roof terrace overlooking the Djemma el Fna and watched as night fell and the square came to life.

Morocco - Day Ten - Final Day and revisiting Marrakech

With nightfall, the wind picked up and the air got a lot colder, so we headed down to eat before we were actually hungry. As soon as we stepped into the cluster of stalls in the square, eagle-eyed touts spotted tourists and pulled us to the nearest stall.

Even if eating on a full stomach was a bit of a chore, I couldn’t help but enjoy the delectably soft lamb with couscous, or the barbequed skewers which came hot off the grill in a cloud of smoke.

Morocco - Day Ten - Final Day and revisiting Marrakech

This is street food at its best; traditional, cheap and delicious. I don’t know how the chefs here can work such wonders with meat over nothing but an open flame. But then, dinner has been cooked in the same way in this square every night for centuries, so I guess it’s yet another innate ability the Marrekeshis have.

One early night and one very early start later, we were headed back to drizzly London and the whole trip had come to an end.

Those ten days had been a whirlwind of extremes; from hectic Marrakech to the Sahara and back, from mountains and waterfalls to great flat plains, from the ancient to the modern, from camping in the desert to a four-poster bed… the list goes on.

It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my adventures.


30 thoughts on “Morocco – Day Ten – Final Day and revisiting Marrakech”

  1. That about the bartering is what my sister told me she went through to get me something special from Egypt (I’ve always loved Egypt). She said it was fun, but didn’t want to do it too often as it was exhausting. Love the fact that there’s a bottle of coke in the middle of the food though lol

  2. This looks so great, Emily! I love all of your Morocco posts and can’t wait to make my way out there some time. Just out of curiosity, how was the language barrier like? In the shopping areas and in resorts, did you need to know the language well or were there a fair amount of English speakers? I love to learn bits and pieces of a language before I visit the country, but my boyfriend is well, kind of lazy, so I wanted to get some insight on that from someone who’s been there. :)

    1. I found the language barrier a little difficult but generally ok. Most people in Morocco speak French as a second language and English as a third, some have Spanish instead. We got by with scraps of English, French and Spanish – the only Arabic word I could remember was Shukran (thank you). If you can speak a little French you should be fine, but even if not you’ll still get on ok!! Hope that helps, and let me know if you need any other help with planning and stuff! I highly recommend Morocco it is such an incredible country :)

  3. I couldn’t agree more about the bartering – it happens all over the Middle East and north Africa and while it can be fun, it does get tiring. It’s made me want to shout: “Just tell me the price!”

    1. I know, it’s crazy! It’s so different to what we’re used to and even though it’s fun at first, it just makes you so stressed when you just want to buy something quickly and not feel ripped off just for being a tourist!

  4. Morocco is such a fascinating place. My boyfriend and I went last year, which is quite exotic for anyone from the U.S. It was so pretty I’ve decided to throw a Moroccan-themed summer party.

    1. That sounds amazing – I may have to steal your idea (I have a birthday coming up!!) I love Moroccan designs and I’m now obsessed with mint tea – its a really captivating country isn’t it?!

  5. Love your descriptions and great photos. Brought back good memories. I know exactly what you mean about the disappearing shops, and remember the exhausting bargaining too. ;)

  6. Lovely photos! Thanks so much for sharing about your trip; I loved the images of the marketplace! I’ve always wanted to see the different wares are in that sort of setting and try my hand at haggling for an item. I don’t know if I’d have the backbone to do it, but it would be worth a try!

    Thanks for dropping by my blog! :)

    1. Thank you! I thought I’d be too scared (I am the shyest person in the world!) but the shopkeepers will double or triple (or more) the price for tourists so you really have to!

  7. Lovely post. Thank you for sharing your adventure. Your descriptions reminded me of some of the markets and alleyways we visited in India. . .with all of the bartering, etc. that goes along. It truly can be exhausting, and you start at such a disadvantage as a tourist, be it language, not knowing what a “fair” price should be, and so on. It’s something everyone should experience though, and I admire those who seem to be able to effortlessly breeze through, negotiate and make purchases where everyone ends up smiling.

    1. I know what you mean, I really admire people who can do it – for me it was so far from effortless. It turned into a bit of a game though, I was so determined not to be overcharged!

  8. Your photos are beautiful. Especially the one overlooking the market. You have really captured the moment. Morocco looks exqusit.

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